Save money with these energy-efficient cooking tips
With so many of us left in a state of discomfort about the stability of our financial affairs on a regular basis, we could all do with cutting some corners on our monthly bills to help give us a bit more of a comfortable margin. One way we can do that is by changing the way we cook our meals.
While you may think you’d have to buy newer, greener electricals and appliances to be able to do this properly, it isn’t necessary to make savings. Simply being more thoughtful when it comes to your approach to cooking, and what you’re making every week, can help to significantly cut your bills. In this article, the team at Repair Aid is going to walk you through some of our top tips for how to save money when cooking your meals.
Undoubtedly the most energy-efficient appliance for cooking is a microwave. While the cost to run a microwave for long times isn’t efficient for your bills, you’re going to mostly use microwaves for quick bursts. As long as you’re not using it for a long time, microwave is the way to try and go if you can. Try and make meals around using the microwave. It’s not all ready-meals; you can still make healthy dinners with a microwave to skip oven usage one or two nights a week.
However, keep in mind that you can also save money by not using the defrost option on your microwave. If you plan ahead and leave what you need to defrost overnight in the fridge, instead of doing it in the microwave on the day, then you’ll save time and money too.
While cooking in the microwave with short bursts is more energy-efficient than using ovens for less than 10-15 minutes, there is not going to be much different if the times are roughly the same or if you need to cook the food for a long time. In which case, the oven is just going to be roughly as efficient. It’s also worth considering that you have more energy-saving potential when using an oven due to the various shortcuts you can take.
Firstly, it’s good to know how long it takes for your specific oven to pre-heat. If you know these times, this will save the minutes that the oven is on. Try and organise it so you can cook everything at the same time and maximise the space that you are using in the oven. Use oven dishes made of materials that can absorb and retain heat faster and better. Ceramic and glass are far more effective at doing this than metal – to the point you can even slightly reduce the temperature and save energy that way.
And when you’re cooking, try and keep the oven door shut. While we are tempted to peek in, keep in mind that your oven loses a considerable enough amount of heat to cause you to keep the oven on longer to cook your food properly. Lastly, if you have an electric oven, you can even turn off the heat up to 5 or 10 minutes before the time as the heat will retain – saving on significant energy (as long as you keep that door shut!)
Cooking on the hob
When it comes to hobs, induction hobs are cheaper than gas hobs due to being more energy-efficient. But, even if you have a gas hob, you can still cut corners. Firstly, if you’ve been using your hob to heat water up, use your kettle instead and then just transfer the water. Much more efficient. And while you’re at it, don’t boil water that you don’t need. Use the minimal amount of water possible as it’ll boil faster and, therefore, you’ll use less heat overall. This is because, for the most part, you just need to simmer. So most of the energy usage is going to be spent getting the water to that boiling point.
When it comes to the tools you use, you’ll want the correct size of pan and the right hob for that size. With the right pan, you’re maximising the energy used as the bigger the pan, the more energy that is required to heat all across the surface area. The same principle applies to picking the right hob. Keep in mind that pans with a stainless steel bottom won’t heat up as fast as their copper bottom counterparts. Make sure to keep the lid on your pan to retain heat so the food cooks faster and you are, again, using less heat. And, lastly, make sure to clean the hobs regularly. The more food and gunk stuck to the ring, the more heat that isn’t getting to your pots and pan and, therefore, the more energy wasted.
- Make batches of food if you can. This will allow you to store multiple meals in the freezer and ensures you are only using the microwave to heat up those extra portions.
- Make sure to cut up joints of meat when cooking so as to speed up the cooking process.
- If you intend to roast potatoes, boil them first. This will reduce the amount of time they need to spend in the oven.
- Consider investing in a slow cooker for incredible energy-efficiency.
- To speed up cooking times of meat and potatoes, buy some stainless steel skewers to pierce them. They’ll retain heat and cook faster while skewered thanks to conduction.